I got a little behind on my Movie Fighting. Rather than spam Readers with a bunch of posts, here are some highlights from the three I didn’t get up in time. If you’re unfamiliar, Movie Fights is a Screen Junkies show hosted by Andy Signore on Youtube that brings in a panel of three people to debate nerdy questions about movies. For these posts, I listen to the question, type my answer, listen to the panel’s discussion and respond. And new to this post, I’m also going to pick who I think should have won the fight. Let’s go! From June 14, featuring Dan Murrell, Andy Signore (as a rare panelist instead of host), and Mike Carlson
BEST FOURTH FILM IN A FRANCHISE?
Live Free or Die Hard. This movie had a lot to do, and chief among them was finding a way to make John McClane relevant in the 21st century. Die Hard 4 came out in 2007, Die Hard 3 came out in 1995. I was 13-14 in ’95, and it was a crazy different time. The Internet was not a widespread phenomenon in every home, and it certainly wasn’t on every phone. Hell, our heroes were still using pay phones in Die Hard 3.
And sure, it’s not like cop movies stopped being made in the 12 years between the two movies, but John McClane is a big character. Literally, the franchise is his face.
He has to feel like he belongs in the world, and the world has to feel like it’s ours. And through Jason Long’s character Farrell, we’re given someone who can navigate a technological landscape and cyberterrorism in a way that just isn’t reasonable for McClane. Through Timothy Olyphant’s Gabriel, we get a villain that feels new and fresh (while still having the one thing all Die Hard villains have in common), and with the expanded role that Lucy McClane has as John’s estranged college-aged daughter, we get a nice callback to the movies that came before and something tangible for John to fight for. But it doesn’t feel like we HAVE to have seen Die Hard 1-3 to understand that sometimes fathers and daughters have complicated relationships.
Plus, it has Bruce Willis crashing a helicopter with a police car and surfing a fighter jet through a highway overpass, and where’s that NOT get fun?
Mentioned in the video: Mad Max: Fury Road, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol.
Follow-up Thoughts: I have no way to judge Mad Max: Fury Road, because I could not be more disinterested in it. It’s a tall order asking a film in 2015 to revive a film series that is so genre and so much more cult-followed than mainstream after three decades, and as far as piquing my interest or making me care, it failed.
As for Harry Potter, I love the books and the movies are good, but Goblet of Fire always feels the most disconnected from the overall story. Once Harry’s name comes out of the goblet and the novelty of “Gee, how’d that happen” wears off, the Tri-wizard Tournament feels only vaguely dangerous and like it has very little to do with Voldemort or Harry’s status as the boy who lived or villains out to kill him until the end when Voldemort is suddenly back and would like very much to kill him. It’s a good movie, but I think compared to Prisoner of Azkaban or Order of the Phoenix, which also hit the teen angst and danger moments and felt connected to the wider story in significant ways throughout, it pales. Ghost Protocol was almost my pick, but I left it off because of how much it relies on the third film. I enjoyed the heck out of it, but to really connect with it, I think you have to have seen MI:III, which…I thought I had, but realized soon into Ghost Protocol that I, in fact, had not. —————— From June 21, featuring Jon Schnepp, director of documentary “The Death of Superman Lives: What Happened?”; John Rocha, Far Far Away co-host; and Nick Mundy of Screen Junkies.
MOST TRAUMATIZING KIDS MOVIE?
FernGully: The Last Rainforest. Setting aside the terror that comes from waking up and realizing you’ve shrunk to a size so small that literally everything in nature could be a serious threat, the bad guy of Fern Gully is Hexxus, who is brought about by mankind’s inability to care for the world we live on. It’s an evil being that we brought on ourselves just by living the way we live. And that’s scary on its own, but then you add the visuals?! That creepy smoky glowing-eyed skeleton that wraps itself in oil to become somehow even MORE creepy? And voiced by the master of creepiness, Pennywise the Clown himself, Mr. Tim Curry? Trau-mat-ic.
In the video: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Original Transformers animated movie, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
Follow up thoughts: You know how you don’t turn into a giant blueberry, get sucked into a chocolate tube, or make Willy Wonka yell at you? Exercise caution and follow the rules easily laid out. And the big argument for Transformers movie is that Optimus Prime, the hero, dies. And yes, that’s sad, but what’s worse? A hero dying in battle, or a defenseless creature killed at the hands of a madman in Roger Rabbit? And is that worse than knowing that the fate of the planet lies at the feet of a surfer dude and a pair of loggers realizing “things have gotta change,” the end”? How useful are those three going to be at affecting world-saving change?
My winner: It’s close between Who Framed Roger Rabbit and FernGully, but I’m sticking with FernGully.
MOST DISAPPOINTING SUMMER BLOCKBUSTER OF ALL TIME?
Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones. Look, there’s no arguing that The Phantom Menace was a huge disappointment for a lot of fans, but at least it had that kickass lightsaber battle between Qui-Gon Jinn, Darth Maul and Obi-Wan Kenobi. So even though the film as a whole might have left a sour taste, there’s room to expect *better* of a sequel that’s going to give us older Anakin, Obi-Wan in his prime, Christopher Lee and the titular promise of Clone attacks. What we got was whiny-assed Anakin, horrendous dialogue about the roughness of sand that gets everywhere, the worst romance this side of Twilight, and a lightsaber duel that, let’s face it, may as well have been achieved by filming headshots while waving glowsticks around in a dark room. Attack of the Clones failed so hard because it had so much potential to be better than what came before, and instead it took the dreams Phantom Menace had crushed and ground them into fine powder.
In the video: Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, Amazing Spider-Man 2, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
My winner: I think we’re all winners on this one. All these movies are disappointing to degrees that differ only on personal experience.
From June 28, featuring Doug Walker, the Nostalgia Critic; Amy Nicholson, LA Weekly film critic; and Dan Murrell of Screen Junkies.
WHAT MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE CHARACTER SHOULD BE IN A SPIDER-MAN MOVIE?
When Marvel has a slate of movies stretching into the 2020s, and they’d rather put more effort into acquiring Spider-Man and re-adjusting said slate to accommodate him than making a movie for Black Widow, a well-liked character already in their film stable, it’s pretty clear they’re NEVER going to make a stand-alone Black Widow movie. So injecting her into as many movies as possible is the next best thing.
Plus, anything we can do to reduce the amount of teen romance angst, the better. I don’t care about Peter and Mary Jane. I don’t care about Peter and Gwen Stacy. And I don’t think Natasha does either, so she could keep things on track in that regard without threatening the audience with the dreaded love triangle of awful.
In the video: Punisher, Bruce Banner, Black Widow(!)
Follow-up: Dan Murrell made a good point that The Punisher gives young Peter Parker a more real-life guy to fight rather than thrusting him into battles with Green Goblin or Electro or any number of big-time villains, but…do we really want to see that? Spider-Man vs A Guy? Sure, if you want to change the feel of Spider-Man in film to something more gritty and dark, but I think there’s going to be a disconnect with Tom Holland’s youth and the type of story telling Marvel’s typically been going for in its films.
As for Amy Nicholson’s Bruce Banner suggestion: Yeah, he and Peter can be Science Bros. 2.0, and maybe that would have been great pre-Age of Ultron, but after everything that went down in that film, I’m having a hard time seeing Banner in a good place to be taking a kid under his wing and showing him how to be a hero, because Banner himself doesn’t know how to be a hero. Or at least, he thinks he doesn’t. And if you try to make a film that’s half Spider-Man, half Bruce Banner gets over himself…well, you’re really going to lose the Spider-Man element. Black Widow can come in and, like she’s done in the past, open the door to the greater MCU mythos while still giving the audience something new via interactions with Peter, who, let’s be real, is unlike anyone we’ve seen her deal with
My winner: The Nostalgia Critic has my back, and I have his: Black Widow, all the way.
What do you think? Do my arguments stack up against the panels? For a preview of my next Movie Fights post, be sure to check out Screen Junkies’ Movie Fights video every Sunday at noon.
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